Donald Trump and New York Times clash over Manchester attack leaks

The New York Times is on a fresh collision course with Donald Trump after he vowed to investigate leaked evidence from the Manchester terror attack.

Material from the scene of the atrocity, including the bomb's alleged detonator, were pictured in a story by the news outlet on Wednesday, having apparently been shared by US officials.

The unauthorised release provoked outrage in British intelligence circles and led Greater Manchester Police to temporarily sever information-sharing ties with their American counterparts.

The US president, who was due to receive a dressing down from Theresa May at a Nato summit in Brussels, declared the security lapse a "grave threat to our national security".

In a White House statement, he said: "The alleged leaks coming out of government agencies are deeply troubling.

"These leaks have been going on for a long time and my administration will get to the bottom of this.

"The leaks of sensitive information pose a grave threat to our national security.

"I am asking the Department of Justice and other relevant agencies to launch a complete review of this matter, and if appropriate, the culprit should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

His pronouncements once again set the New York Times in the crosshairs of the famously media-wary president.

Mr Trump has waged a highly-publicised battle with the newspaper, routinely describing it as "fake news" and "failing" in its coverage of him.

But the organisation defended its reporting of the Manchester Arena evidence.

"The images and information presented were neither graphic nor disrespectful of victims, and consistent with the common line of reporting on weapons used in horrific crimes," it said in a statement.

"We have strict guidelines on how and in what ways we cover sensitive stories. Our coverage of Monday's horrific attack has been both comprehensive and responsible."

The promise of a US investigation comes at a time of heightened sensitivity about leaked information surrounding the Trump administration.

Mr Trump weathered a storm of criticism for passing on highly classified Israeli intelligence to Russian officials in a meeting earlier this month.

He later accused the former head of the FBI, James Comey, of leaking details of their conversations in the fallout from his dismissal.

Wednesday's controversy with the New York Times followed similar episodes in the wake of the attack - including US sources sharing the terrorist's identity with broadcasters.

It came hours after Home Secretary Amber Rudd publicly rebuked US authorities over the leaks, labelling them "irritating".

A furious response from counter-terror chiefs was also issued in response to the New York Times piece, saying such episodes "undermine our investigations".

PA


 

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